Israel rejects truce call of UN, EU in Gaza

Israel rejected calls by the United Nations and the European Union for a truce after Israeli air strikes killed more than 200 people in Gaza.

Israel rejects truce call of UN, EU in Gaza

Israel "cannot accept" a ceasefire with Hamas, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said in a U.S. television interview on Saturday, rejecting calls by the United Nations and the European Union for a truce after Israeli air strikes killed more than 200 people in Gaza.

Barak told Fox News from Tel Aviv, asked whether Israel would follow up the air strikes with a ground offensive, "If boots on the ground will be needed, they will be there."

"Our intention is to totally change the rules of the game," he said.

EU call for immediate ceasefire

The European Union called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza on Saturday and backed Egyptian efforts to restore a truce and end the "disproportionate use of force".

"We are very concerned at the events in Gaza. We call for an immediate ceasefire and urge everybody to exert maximum restraint," a spokesman for European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana said.

"Everything must be done to renew the truce," he said.

Israeli war planes and helicopters pounded the Gaza Strip on Saturday, killing more than 200 people.

EU president France said it condemned the Israeli bombardments and the rocket attacks from Gaza and called for both to stop immediately.

The presidency said in a statement it also deplores the many civilian casualties and condemns the disproportionate use of force.

"The presidency of the European Union notes there is no military solution to Gaza and calls for the introduction of a lasting truce," the presidency said.

"It encourages the efforts of neighbouring countries, particularly those of Egypt, which could reach this goal."

The EU presidency also called for an immediate reopening of border crossing points, resumption of deliveries of humanitarian aid and fuel, and unrestricted access for international organisations, diplomats and journalists.

The EU's executive body, the European Commission, also called for "utmost restraint".

UN appeal

UN chief Ban Ki-moon also on Saturday called for an immediate halt to Israeli violence in Gaza following air strikes that killed more than 200 Palestinians.

Ban "is deeply alarmed by today's heavy violence and bloodshed in Gaza, and the continuation of violence in southern Israel," a spokesman for the UN secretary general said in a statement.

The UN leader "appeals for an immediate halt to all violence.

"While recognizing Israel's security concerns regarding the continued firing of rockets from Gaza," read the statement, Ban "firmly reiterates Israel's obligation to uphold international humanitarian and human rights law and condemns excessive use of force leading to the killing and injuring of civilians."

Ban also reiterated "his previous calls for humanitarian supplies to be allowed into Gaza to aid the distressed civilian population."

The UN leader is "making immediate contact with regional and international leaders, including Quartet principals, in an effort to bring a swift end to the violence," the statement added.


Agencies

Last Mod: 28 Aralık 2008, 13:08
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